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I've noticed a trend (at least on the Google Play store) of application prices ending in x.99, while 'donation' apps usually end on the dollar. I see the reasoning behind the psychology that makes a user purchase a $0.99 item over one that costs $1.00, but why the trend to keep the prices on the dollar for donation items?

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2 Answers

up vote 183 down vote accepted

We want it to feel cheap when we buy but not when we give.

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Nice answer, but is there any evidence that this is true? –  Abe Aug 17 '12 at 6:24
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That's a very catchy and clever answer, but can you back it up? I want to believe you're correct, but I have nagging doubts. Please try to convince me. –  iconoclast Aug 17 '12 at 14:47
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I would posit that anyone who donates on a regular basis could self-validate this assertion - it resonates with me on a deep level. We may have to look past UX to fundraising psychology for research to support it. I would enjoy digging a bit deeper also, but I'm on vacation without a reliable internet connection. –  Luke Charde Aug 17 '12 at 15:26
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I feel like the upvotes to the answer are evidence enough it is correct. I personally would prefer to keep it the elegant one-liner it is, but I'm new to UX and am not sure if this would be a breach of the philosophy. –  John Leehey Aug 17 '12 at 16:16
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The Psychological Pricing wikipedia page has some relevant information. –  Ben Brocka Aug 17 '12 at 18:21
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The psychology behind the $0.99 was explored in depth in Priceless: The Hidden Psychology of Value, which if you ask for my humble opinion, is a life-changing book. Partly the reason for such price tags is that it translates for many as a 'sale' price. Against it, is that it is typically associated with 'hard sale'.

The donation payment system is in its core anti-capitalist, thus anti-commerce, and so prices are accordingly just simple (distinguishing themselves from any sale or hard sale like prices).

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+1 for the first paragraph. But how are donations anti-capitalist? If they took the money without permission that would be in opposition to capitalism and a free market, but if you give of your own volition that seems like it is perfectly in keeping with a free (as in freedom) market. –  iconoclast Aug 17 '12 at 14:45
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Heh... it's not anti-capitalist at all, but it's against the silly capitalist strawman that's become popular recently. Ironically, basically it's people who can't separate "money" and "personal gain", but who simultaneously talk about how good they feel about throwing their livelihood behind a particular cause. –  jkerian Aug 17 '12 at 15:18
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Exactly: communism (e.g.) forces you to "give", capitalism gives you the freedom to choose. Free software (e.g., again) is very much in keeping with capitalism, despite the PR campaigns to the contrary coming from Redmond. –  iconoclast Aug 17 '12 at 17:04
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"Competitive markets, capital accumulation, voluntary exchange, and personal finance are, however, not capitalism, and are often a part in non-capitalist systems". Donations are not anti-capitalist. Capitalism != freedom, by a long shot (perhaps ask people whose ancestors were slaves quite how close to the core of capitalism one finds "freedom"). –  supervacuo Aug 17 '12 at 20:44
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It seems the only agreement here is that "Capitalism is whatever I defined it to be". –  Lie Ryan Aug 18 '12 at 17:45
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